News / Africa

Niger Uneasy About French Troops Tracking Abductions

Image taken from video and provided by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group shows the first images of a group of foreign hostages working for a French energy company who were seized in Niger by an al-Qaida offshoot, 30 Sept. 2010
Image taken from video and provided by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group shows the first images of a group of foreign hostages working for a French energy company who were seized in Niger by an al-Qaida offshoot, 30 Sept. 2010

French troops are in Niger to help search for hostages abducted by terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida.

The hostages abducted last month from Niger's huge French uranium mine are now thought to be in neighboring Mali. So there is no on-the-ground hunt for the hostages here. Instead, the 80 French troops in Niger's capital are conducting aerial surveillance of the group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb along Mali's border with Algeria.

The head of the French military, Edouard Guillaud, says there are no immediate plans to use those troops to help free the hostages.

For the moment, he says, French forces in the Sahel are here to support diplomacy.

The strain of the kidnapping and the deployment of French troops has caused some tension between Niger's military government, France, and the French energy firm Areva.

Regional diplomats here say there is an unhappy cooperation with the French deployment. Niger's government knows it can not refuse the troops because this is not Niger's fight. There is an acknowledgement that terrorism has hurt tourism and could threaten future investment. The hope, diplomats say, is that al-Qaida and the French will both leave Niger in peace.

Political science professor Mahaman Tidjani Alou says the arrival of both al-Qaida and French troops means Niger no longer has any privacy. It is as if the country is now simply part of a larger territory.

Alou says these are problems effecting Niger in such a way that its leaders appear helpless.   What will happen in the future, he asks. Either Sahelian countries will be strengthened to better control their territories and protect their sovereignty or they are going to occupied by foreign armies or other groups like al-Qaida.

With the resources Niger has today, Alou says the country is becoming more and more attractive to groups like Areva. Areva is already here, he says, but no one knows where it will stop. Alou says the problems of security are in Niger and Mali but the negotiations to find solutions are taking place in Paris and Washington. That, he says, is the paradox.

Algerian security analyst Hamad Yassine says French troops in the Sahel threaten Algeria's self-appointed role as the regional leader in the fight against al-Qaida.

Yassine says Algeria is organizing Sahelian military and intelligence chiefs to make clear that it is in charge of this fight. Yassine says it is a message to the Sarkozy government that French troops must leave regional security cooperation to Algeria, since Algeria believes it knows best this al-Qaida group because it began in Algeria.

Mauritanian political analyst Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Abu al-Maaly says French intervention in the hostage crisis would give al-Qaida a huge propaganda win.

He says French troops are like adding oil to a fire because it justifies al-Qaida's presence in the region as a popular force defending the sovereignty of Sahelian people against foreign intervention. He doubts Algeria's ability to better coordinate anti-terrorism efforts because of mistrust among Sahelian governments, which makes it easier for al-Qaida to operate.

Al-Qaida's attack on the uranium mine here was an unusually bold move for a group that previously focused on kidnapping tourists and aid workers. The vulnerability of such an important investment for Niger has lead to finger pointing over security and sovereignty.

Government spokesman Laouali Dan Dah says Niger's military offered to take over security at the Areva mine in July. But Areva chose instead to use its own unarmed guards unlike, Dan Dah says, any of the other mining firms in Niger. Areva says 350 troops stationed at the local airport were meant to regularly patrol living areas from where the hostages were abducted.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs